A new report shows extreme drought throughout the Bighorn Mountains.
The latest data from the University of Nebraska's National Drought Mitigation Center shows most of Wyoming is experiencing some level of drought. That ranges from moderate drought in the south and some eastern parts of the state to severe drought in the central region.
Interim Director of the Wyoming Water Resources Data System and State Climate Office Tony Bergantino said there is extreme drought in Sheridan, Johnson, Natrona, Washakie and Hot Springs counties.
"Precipitation pretty much just turned off. We had high winds and warm temperatures that just got things going dry really quick. Reports of soil moisture being really depleted up there," Bergantino said of the factors that contributed to the drought.
Bergantino said that extreme drought is the highest level the state has seen since October 2018. According to the Drought Monitor, the impacts of D3, or extreme drought, is inadequate surface water for ranching and farming and a poor snow pack.
Bergantino said one of the first fires of the season occurred in Johnson County and there have been subsequent fires in the area. The snowpack had looked good early in the year and into May, but the weather shifted.
Even if rain does pick back up, it won't be enough to reverse the damage, he said.
"At this point, the crops have not done what they should be doing to get an effective yield out of it. I know water rights have been curtailed in a few places. They set-up a sharing kind of thing where these users can use it this day to avoid going into regulation," Bergantino said.
He said the agriculture industry will be the most impacted by the drought. The west and northwestern parts of the state are the only areas showing no signs of drought, and Bergantino said that's because of precipitation they had early on.
Fire restrictions are also in place across much of the area.
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